Dhenkanal district is one of the centrally located district in Odisha (Formerly Orissa). It lies between Longitude 85° 58' to 86° 2' East and Latitude 20° 29' to 21° 11' North. It is the District which touches the boundary of Keonjhar in the North, Jajpur in the East, Cuttack in the South and Angul in the West. Geographical area of Dhenkanal district is 4595 sq kms. Total population of this district as per 1991 census was 9,47,870 which has been increased by 12.46 percent in 2001census ( provisional ). As per 2001 census total population of this district is 10,65,983 (provisional).
Dhenkanal is the place where the fertile soil for all religious sects and philosophies is available.Rightly from its inception to the present days, testimony is eloquent that , the Hindu sects like Baisnvism,Saivasism, Saktism etc flourished.Besides that ,Buddhism to some extent also found a place of adoration.Mahima cult originated and spreaded from this place.
Saivism found a fertile ground in the district of Dhenkanal. Shiva is worshipped in many a names in the temples seattered throughout the district. There are some eminent shiva temples which bear testimony to the fact. Sri Chandrasekhar at Kapilash, Sri Biswanath at Kapilash, Sri Naganatheswar at Nagana,Sri Annakoteswar at Latadeipur, Sri Kanakeswar at Nadhera, Sri Kamleswar at Kamalanga, Sri Bhudeswar at Bhuban, Sri Biswanatheswar at Ramashankarpur, Sri Paschimeswar at Bhapur, Sri Daudeswar and Kapilesar at Karamul, Sri Rameswar at Tentulisingha and Sri Kapileswar at Hatuari in K.Nagar. Sri Kumbheswar at Depara. Besides that , there are some Siva temples located at Ganeshkhola, at Aswakhola, at Jibankhola and in the heart of Dhenkanal town.
b) Baisnavism: It relates to the worship of Lord Vshnu and His incarnations. Dhenkanal district has a great impact on Baishnava sect. Rightly from the resurgense of vaishnavism in India. Sridhar swami a Vaishnava saint settled at Kapilash and wrote the commentary of Srimat Bhagavatam in Sanskrit. The image of Nrishinga at Kapilash, the temple of Sri Narayana, the Saligram in the santum of Kapilash temple, the foot print of Sri Gauranga, Sri patitapavana Jaganath image in the temple of Lord Chandrasekhar signifies the Baisnava cult's florishment in Dhenkanal.
The cult further developed by the royal patronage of the kings. Harisingh vidyadhar constructed Sidha Balarama temple at Dhenkanal and which was subsequently completed by Nrusingha Bhamarbar . Sri Chaitanya while proceeding to the Jharkand had halted at Shambhu Gopal matha and also visited the cemetery of Sridharswami. The advent of Goudiya Vaishnavism or the Bhakti cult created an epoch in the spiritual history of the district. After wards Baishnavism flourished under the patronage of the royal dynasty.Raja Kunjabehari was a baishnava who wrote ‘Premsheela’a spiritual kabya. Kabi Brajanath wrote Keli kalanidhi, Gopibilapa and many other baishnav kabyas. Maharaj Bahgiratha Mohindra Bahadur entrusted the holy responsibility of dieties to Baba Sitarama Das.He also erected the wooden mandap at Kapilas, Japa mandap , the kitchen at kapilas. Rajarshi Surapratap spearheaded the spiritual field. He created Debottar Dept. for Dhenkanal and appointed Sri Parvati Charan Das as the magistrate. He erected Jaganath temple in the premises of Lord Balaram temple, initiated car festival , erected gundicha temple. Constructed Jay Gopal temple and the famous Kunjakanta temple at Dhenkanal.
c) Shaktism: Side by side alongwith saivism and Baishnavism ,Shaktism or the worship of Shakti the Mother- manifested.The Parvati image at Kapilas, Brahmani Devi temple, Dhakinakali temple, Ma Sundarsuni and Ma Jenadei at Dhenkanal proves that the practice of mother worship is still in force. Dhenkanal has a martial tradition and the rural milisia namely the ‘Paikas’ are the traditional warriers who worship goddess Durga. Hence in different part of the district we find Shakti temples and vituals.The Stambeswari at Kualo, Ramachandi, on Brahmini bank , Sukia Bauti temple at Hindol etc are famous Shaktipithas.
d) The Mahima Dharma :Is the unique contribution of Dhenkanal to the spirituality of India.Joranda is the center of the Mahima dharma. Mahimadharma originated in such a manner in which there was no critical ristuals of the Brahmanism .It also does not believe in caste & creed. It believes that the ‘Alekh’ the inscribable absolute is the only creater of the Universe.
History shows, in 1828 AD a man probably known as Mukunda Das came to Kapilas and started practicing yoga. Later he came to be known as Mahima gosain. After 12 years of sadhana, he moved to Srikshetra and rolled on the sand of the Badadanda and hence, known as Dhulia Baba.He tried to convince the Hindu scholars of the Mukti mandap about the monotheism. But they disgreeded with him. Hence He left and went to Bhubaneswar where he practicised yoga at Khandagiri cave. Again he returned back to Kapilas and practicised yoga. Sadanand a shabar served him supplying fruits for 12 years. Hence he known as Phalahari Baba,. Raja Bhagirath Mohindra Bahadur arranged milk for him. He lived on milk for another 12 years and he known as Ksherahari Baba. Another 12 years he lived on water so he was known as Nirahari Baba. Sadanand the shavara was the first disciple of him. In 1872 Mahima gosain started propagating his philosophy in different parts of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and finally in 1876 attained moksha.
The teachings was simple and understandable by the rural people. The Mahima sanyasis stayed one night at each village and took one handful of rice from each house. Bhimabhoi became the spokesman and exponent of the philosophy. His Stuti Chintamani and innumerable Mahima bhajans popularized the cult. Gradually the cult spread in different parts of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) & the Country. The Mahima sanyasis were divided into sects as the ‘kumbhipatias’ or the Balkala dharis and the kanapatias or the kaupinadharis. Now at Joranda the Kumbhapatias observe Prabhupurnima and the Kanapatias observe Gurupurnima in Magha sukla chturdasi and purnami which is other wise known as Joranda mela.Now Joranda is the center of attraction for all the believers of the dharma where Gadimandir, Shunya mandir,Dhuni mandit and the rest houses for thousends of devotees situated.Now at Kadua Tapobana another Mahima temple is constructed.
For practical purpose, this district can be divided in to three natural divisions :
- Southern hilly region.
- The river Valley with tributains.
- The northern hilly region.
Most part of this district are covered with dense forest and a long range of hills. Therefore this district is called as the "Home of elephants and tigers for the country".
This district has mainly five varieties of soil.
1. Alluvial soil (Available in river valley).
2. Red leam soil (Available in high Land).
3. Sandy loan soil (Found in Yatches).
4. Gravelly soil (Found in hill slopes).
5. Cleaving loan soil (Found through out the district)
The climate of this district is generally hot with high humidity during April and May and cold during December and January. The monsoon generally breaks during the month of June.
Some large scale industries like Nilachal Refractories, Utkal Asbestos Ltd, Odisha (Formerly Orissa) Polyfibres Ltd ,Shakti sugar are established in this district.
An agricultural district like Dhenkanal gains much from forests which plays an important role in the economy of the district. The principal forest products are Timber, Bamboo, Fire wood and Kendu leaf. The minor forest products are Lac, Honey, Kenduli Gum, Wax, Mahua flower, Sunari fark, Siali Leaves, Catechus, Tassar Cocoons and other raw materials used for medicine.
How to reach
The nearest airport for approaching the places of interest in the district of Dhenkanal is at Bhubaneswar (99 km.) which is connected with Bew Deklgum Culcutta, Chennai, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Nagpur by boeing flights.
Dhenkanal Railway Station on Cuttack Sambalpur S.E.Railway line.
99 km. from Bhubaneswar on N.H. No. 42 Regular bus services connect Dhenkanal with Bhubaneswar, Cuttack Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Raipur, etc.
Places of Interest in and around Dhenkanal
Kapilas Deer Park
It is situated in the north east corner of Dhenkanal town at a distance of 26 Km from the district head quarters. The temples is situated in about 2239 feet from the sea level. The temple is 60 feet in height. There are two approaches for the temple. One is through climbing 1352 steps and the other is 'Barabanki' or the travel twisting way. Narasinghdeva I constructed the temple for Sri Chandrasekhar in 1246AD indicated in the Kapilas temples inserption. In the left side 'Payamrta kunda'and in the right side 'Marichi kunda' exists. The temple has a wooden Jagamohana. Sri Ganesh, Kartikeya, Gangadevi, etc are found in the temple. Patita pavana Jaganath also remain in the temple as 'Parsa deva'. Lord Biswanath temple is also situated in Kapilas. According to some scholors this temple is older than the Chandrasekahr jew temple, hence it is known as 'Budha linga'. There are many legends about kapilas pitha and its significance. History says it was the ashram of Kapila muni, to some scholars it is the second Kailash of Lord Siva. Dridhar swami who wrote commentary on Srimad Bhagavatham stayed there. There are some monastries in the premises.
This temple belongs to sri sri Naganatheswar shiva, situated at village'Nagena' about 20 Km from Dhenkanal. It is the most ancient saiva temple and was constructed during the region of the Keshari dynasty. According to scholors Pandit Nagendranath Mohapatras'Naganath satakam it is one of the 12 yotir lingas. In the stotras of the 'Awashyotirlinga' one of the yotirlinga is in the Daruka-Vana or Neem forest.The neem forest is still there in the premises. Even Harisingh Vidyadhar who occupied the Dhenkanal fragmental temple for the darshan of Lord Naganath. The sloka of rdwadasha yotirlinga says that Naganath temple is situated in the southern most part of Anga Kingdom. It shows that some times in history that part kalina touched Anga border. However, near it there is a debri of a fort which is still unidentified. Here river Bahmani turns to north which is as holy as the Gangas.
Kualo or Karmula was the ancient capital of dhenkanal. Kualo is situated in north of dhenkanal town at a distance of 32 Km on the right side of river Brahmani. The kingdom was ruted by the shulki kings who hold 'stamba'epithets. They were the fedotaries of the Bahmukar kings. Their futiler deity was Lord Shiva. Hence we see eight siva temples at Kualo known as 'Ashta Sambhu'. These eight shiva lingas are known as - Kanakeswar, swapneswar, Aisneswar, Kapileswar, Baidyanatheswar, baneswar and Lokanatheswar.
It is one of the Ashta shambhu siva and situated near Ramachandi temple.
Situated at Latodeipur. The significance of this shiva linga is that it grooms in the bright fortnight and reduces on the dark half.
Other Shiva Temples
Besides the above temples there are many other shiva temples which indicate the extant of siva culf in the region. Some of them are as below.
One can proceed 12Km in the Sankarpur road from Dhenkanal Bus stop and then turn west at the Badagila chowk and pass two km to reach Saptya Sajya a scenic beauty where the holy temple of Maryada Purusottama Sri Ramachandra is located at about 900 feet at the hilltop. A mountains stream flows down as if touching his holly feet in veneration. Mythologically this place is important and many legends are still available. Its name is Sapta Sajya because, there are seven hills surrounding the area. Again there is story that, the Saptarashi had their ashramas here in this place. There is also a mythological story, that, Sriram during his exiled or Vanabasha had spent seven days in this beautiful spot. Secondly the Pandavas during their 12 years of exile and one year of Agyanta Vasa had chosen this mountains for shelter. The Govt. constructed the Pukka road way in 1982. Inside the temple complex Maa Annapurna temple was constructed in 1982, the 1st floor Kalki temple in 1985, the Surya Narayan temple in 1990. Now the temple of Sri Rameswaram Shiva, Sri Ganesh, Sri Mahavir, and the Nabagrah Temple with each room for each graha are found. Mahakali, Mata Saraswati, Sri Nrushingha temple are conceived to be built in the holy complex. This scenic spot has become a good tourist and picnic spot where thousands of tourists and devotees gather from different corners of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and India.
Sri Raghunath Temple - Saptasajya.
Sri Raghunath Temple of Saptya sajya is one of the Important Baisnav temples of Dhenkanal. One can proceed 12Km in the Sankarpur road from Dhenkanal Bus stop and then turn west at the Badagila chowk and pass two km to reach Saptya Sajya a scenic beauty where the holy temple of Maryada Purusottama Sri Ramachandra is located at about 900 feet at the hilltop. A mountains stream flows down as if touching his holly feet in veneration. Mythologically this place is important and many legends are still available. Its name is Sapta Sajya because, there are seven hills surrounding the area. Again there is story that, the Saptarashi had their ashramas here in this place. There is also a mythological story, that, Sriram during his exiled or Vanabasha had spent seven days in this beautiful spot. Secondly the Pandavas during their 12 years of exile and one year of Agyanta Vasa had chosen this mountains for shelter. The Govt. constructed the Pukka road way in 1982. Inside the temple complex Maa Annapurna temple was constructed in 1982, the 1st floor Kalki temple in 1985, the Surya Narayan temple in 1990. Now the temple of Sri Rameswara Shiva, Sri Ganesh, Sri Mahivir, and the Nabagrah Temple with each room for each graha are found. Mahakali, Mata Saraswati, Sri Nrushingha temple are conceived to be built in the holy complex. This scenic spot has become a good tourist and picnic spot where thousands of tourists and devotees gather from different corners of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) and India. Kunjakanta Temple at Dhenkanal.
Sri Brundaban Chandra, Krishna is worshipped at the Kunjakanta Temple. This temple is situated in Dhenkanal Town on a hill. Rajarshi Surapratap Singhdeo who was a pious and a person of spiritually built the temple. His Baishnav Guru his holiness Madhusudan Goswami of Brundaban suggested Raja Surapratap to build the temple. The image of Sri Radhakrishna was installed and the ritualistic pattern of Brundavan was adopted. Late Parvati Charan Das the then Debottar Magistrate who after initiation in to sanysa known as Baba Padmacharan Das helped the king in constructing the temple. However, after the sad premature demise of the king, Rani Krishnairiya took up the holly responsibility of the temple, who also wrote (Kunjakanta Janana.). Now this temple has Jhulan Mandap , Rasha Mandap with Astha Sakhi and the rituals are being taken up through out the year.
Jagganath Temple Deogaon
With the spread of Baisnavism in Dhenkanal Jagannath Temple were built in diffrent parts of the District. This Jagannath Temple is located at Deogaon at the foot of Kapilas mountain. Gajapati Prataprudra Deva had built the temple. The gateway of this temple is higher than the temple itself. Every year the Rathayatra (Car festival) is being organised by the temple management in collaberation with Debottor Dept., Dhenkanal.
Narayan Temple of Kaplias
Kaplias is the place where synthesis of saivism and Baisnavism are amply demonstrated. The Narayan Temple at the hill of Kaplias is an example of that great event. There, is a beautiful black granite image of Sri Narayan is Worshipped. A stream flows down touching holly feet of Narayan.
Places of Interest around Dhenkanal
This place is situated at a distance of 24 km. from dhenkanal which is famous as the religious headquarters of 'Mahima Dharma' , the only religious cult started from Odisha (Formerly Orissa). Joranda houses the samadhi of Mahima Gosain, the preacherpropounder of the Mahima Cult, The other sacred temples are the 'Sunya Mandira', 'Dhuni Mandira' and 'Gadi Mandira' Pilgrims in large numbers pour forth to Joranda fair held on full-moon day of Magha which falls in January-February every year. All of the principal texts of the religion like the Stuti Chintaamani were composed by Bhima Bhoi. This is mainly celebrated by the religious people belong to the religion, locally named ‘Alekh/Mahima’ dharma. From the year, 1874 this unique festival was regularly held year after year. For the first time Mahima Swami has imagined and created the idea of this great fair. Every year the people belong to Mahima religion gather here to celebrate their annual function, termed as “Joranda Fair". From each nook and corners of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) the devotees come to this place to discover calmness in their life and how to achieve nirvana (Swarg) after death. According to the devotees they pray altogether to their god by saying. Alekh Brahma and burn enough amount of ghee in Jajnan Kund to being peace back into the earth’s life. They believe that this devotion will provide our earthpureness and all the basic needs people cherish in their day-to-day life.
Remnants of the first palace and fort of the ancestors of the present King of Dhenkanal can be visited at Ganesh Khola a further 10km from Joranda.
72 km. from Dhenkanal, 45 km from Angul and 25 km from Talcher town, Kualo is famous for housing a plethora of temples dedicated to Lord Kanakeswar, Baidyanath, Paschimeswar, Balunkeswar and Kapileswar. In its ruined form, the temple of Kanakeswar is about 24 ,trs. High and preserves some of the earliest specimens of sculptures representing temple building activities in Odisha (Formerly Orissa).
40 km. from Dhenkanal town, Ladagada is a place of religious importance. A piece of stone known as Lord Siddheswar is worshipped here with great reverence. The banyan tree which gives shelter to the Lord is known as Kalpabruksha.
67 km. from Dhenkanal, 23 Km from Angul and 3 km. from Talcher one finds the Anantasyi image of Lord Vishnu on the rocky bed of the river Brahmani at Saranga. The hoods of Ananta, the serpent king spread over the head of Lord Vishnu as the crown and cover. The primal lotus, housing Brahma, the creator, originates from Vishnu's naval, the supreme being enjoys deep delight of his cosmic sleep in the water of the river Brahmani.
67 km from Dhenkanal and 30 km from Kamakshyanagar, Dandadhar is the site of an irrigation project on the river Ramial- an ideal place for outing. Blue expense of sparkling water caged in sun-bathed valley is a thrill to the searching eyes. This place is regarded as a quality picnic spot and is highly acclaimed for its scenic beauty. Many people in the season of winter gathered here to spend some quality time near the dam site.
Tikarpada (120 km)
The tiny village of Tikarpada (120 km from Dhenkanal and 58 km from angul) has one of the splendid setting in the world. It offers some of the most exciting visuals of the satkosia gorge, India's mightiest gorge, into which the turbulent Mahanadi river crashes with amazing ferocity through 22 km of emerlad forests, that seem to change their hues with every bend of the river's meanderings. Apart from offering gorgeous views from the pinncles of the surrounding hills, there is an excellent potential for angling, boating and trekking around these parts.The Gharial crocodile population obviously enjoys these exotic environs and has an excellent breeding place in this sanctuary created to protect them.
Deulajhari (90 km from Angul)
A natural hot spring that seems to flow from the bottom of a Shiva Linga.